Kenya charges fraud in connection with a China-funded railway worth $ 3 billion

Celebrating the launch of a new railway

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EPA

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The new railway connects the capital of Nairobi with the port of Mombasa

Two senior Kenyan government officials were charged with fraud in connection with the construction of a railway line financed by China, worth 3.2 billion pounds sterling (2.5 billion pounds sterling).

Both are accused of paying compensation in the amount of more than 2 million dollars. USA to private firms that have falsely stated that they own the land through which the line passes.

Officials and 15 other defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The railway line was Kenya's largest infrastructure project since gaining independence from Britain in 1963.

President Uhuru Kenyatta opened it in May last year, welcoming him as a new chapter in the history of the state of East Africa.

The line passes between the port city of Mombasa and the capital of Nairobi, and construction is completed 18 months earlier.

It is expected that eventually it will connect Southern Sudan, the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Burundi and Ethiopia with the Indian Ocean.

But the project was marred by allegations of corruption and statements by economists that the cost was too high.

Official figures show that in the first year of work he lost about $ 100 million.

The project was also condemned by wildlife groups, as the line passes through the Tsavo National Park in southeastern Kenya.

The head of the Kenyan administration, Atanas Maina, and the chairman of the National Land Commission, Muhammad Swazouri, were charged with fraud on Monday after their arrest on Saturday.

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Caption titleThe railway is financed by the government of China

Many Kenyans welcomed the delay in the two men who were considered "untouchables" because of the political influence that they owned, BBC Ferdinand Omondi of Nairobi reports.

They were handcuffed after they took their places at the dock at the Nairobi court of justice.

Our correspondent adds that the directors of several companies are among the 17 accused. All of them denied the accusations.

Our arrests are the last sign that the government is stepping up its campaign to end the culture of impunity in Kenya, our correspondent says.

Last week, the government destroyed several important buildings in Nairobi, and hundreds more people were tortured to restore public lands.

Speaking during the church service on Sunday, Mr. Kenyatta said: "Over the past few weeks, I have lost so many friends.

"I received many calls when I was asked:" As you can sit and just watch all this destruction, you have to stop it. " But I said that it is difficult to stop, and not because we love to destroy, but because we must fight against impunity. "

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